Smile, Youíre on Overheard @ Uni of Otago!

I have to admit it Ė I like following trends as much as I like following Justin Bieber on Twitter. Iím a complete sheep. A tights-as pants-wearing, bubble tea-drinking, dubstep-listening sheep. I even sort of wish I was an Aucklander. They are cool. They set trends for me to follow!
But the biggest trend to hit campus, via the holy medium of Facebook, has filled my little wannabe heart with fear. See, I pay more attention to Facebook than I will possibly pay to my first-born. It is where many important trends develop.

I join all the popular groups (i.e. ‘My turbans bring Chuck Norris to the yard, and they’re like, I hate Studylink …’), I say I’m attending all the popular parties (Kate’s …), and I upload photos of myself being all trendy and shit. But perhaps the most important Facebook fad I have participated in this year is that of Overheard @ Uni of Otago. This one little ‘Just For Fun – Totally Random’ group has turned us all into voyeuristic, crazed, Richard Nixon-esque Big Brothers. I am both obsessed and terrified.
I watched this group evolve to its monster-proportions via my newsfeed. There are nearly seven thousand members in total. But Overheard @ Uni of Otago is not confined to within the walls of Facebook (see what I did there?) – in order for it to work, this group has to seep into our everyday lives. I prowl around campus like a ninja, listening out for those poor students who are unwittingly sharing their most shameful secrets in my vicinity. I sit in lectures, gleefully waiting for someone to make an embarrassing mistake. I gather quotes and anecdotes like a deranged magpie, achieving a sadistic pleasure when the fruits of my efforts are rewarded with people who I don’t even know pressing the ‘like’ button on my wall post.
But of course it works the other way, too. I am a blatant gossip. When I get excited, I tend to exaggerate a teeny bit, and I speak loudly. Like, I have this friend I don’t see very often, right? The only time we really get to have a juicy goss sesh is right before our only shared lecture. However, thanks to Overheard, everyone around us is a potential threat. Everyone. Even the mature students. Our peers sit there, their poisonous pens poised at the ready, laptops ominously open. Don’t try to tell me they’re innocently waiting for the lecture to begin. They’re not. They’re waiting to pounce. Just mention the word ‘herpes’ and you’re a goner: you will be ‘anonymously’ mocked in front of MILLIONS of people (well, nearly millions). Even in the discomfort of your own flat you are not safe, for your flatmates may betray you! You happen to mistake the diced onion in your cheeseburger for rice? You ponder out loud whether glad wrap can be used as a condom? The whole. Student body. Will. Find. Out.
As George Orwell said, Big Brother is always watching. And while I’m not saying that Overheard @ Uni of Otago is completely turning us into Orwell’s totalitarian state, the huge popularity of this group means you never know who’s listening. It’s scary, it’s morally bankrupt, and it’s public humiliation at its most technological. But I kind of love it. (Don’t quote me on that.)
Posted 3:36pm Sunday 11th July 2010 by Critic.